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Whoops! The U.S. Air Force may have accidentally posted a request online for the industry to send its technologies that can support a hypersonic glide vehicle. The point would be for the vehicle to cross intercontinental ranges.
The request for the hypersonic nuclear weapon has since been removed.
Aviation Week was the first to find the U.S. Air Force's request on August 12th.
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The post on August 12th was from the Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center, which was seemingly looking for ideas to potentially upgrade its intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM), as per Aviation Week. The request included a "thermal protection system that can support [a] hypersonic glide to ICBM ranges."
The items the Air Force was looking for were not classified, thus not technically secret from the public. However, these notes are not typically shared publicly, and given the report has since been removed online, it's quite clear that the information was not meant for all eyes to see.
There's still a lot of uncertainty revolving around the information. On Wednesday last week, Lt. Gen. Richard Clark, the Air Force’s deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration, said the service’s next-generation ICBMs will not include a hypersonic option in their late 2020s version, as per Defense News.
"With a weapon system that’s going to be fielded until the 2070 time frame, it’s hard to know exactly where we may go with that down the road," he said during an event hosted by the Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies.
"Right now, though, the threshold warhead does not include hypersonic glide vehicles. I think I can say that safely without talking too much about what the warheads will look like."
At the moment, Russia is the leader in hypersonic ICBMs, which announced the operation of its Avangard hypersonic weapon in 2019.